Is Our President-elect’s Simple But Wrong Thinking Trickling Down? I Fear the Answer is “Yes”
Our local newspaper, the Valley News, reported on a group of disgruntled taxpayers who filed a petition for a warrant article seeking the ouster of the local Superintendent on the grounds that he has proposed budgets that are too high. As Tim Camerato writes in his article titled “Taxpayers Unhappy with School Budget Call on Board to Fire Mascoma Superintendent”,
A group of Mascoma Valley residents is calling on the School Board to fire Superintendent Patrick Andrew and find a replacement who would propose lower budgets.
Thirty-six voters from Grafton, Canaan and Dorchester signed a Town Meeting warrant article that asks the board to search for a superintendent “who will take action to bring the runaway Mascoma Valley Regional School District budget under control.”
The warrant article cleared the 25-signature threshold needed to make the March ballot, but the district-wide vote will only be advisory, according to Andrew. The School Board has the sole authority for hiring and firing administrators.
It’s not clear why the warrant article was crafted this year to target Andrew, who has been superintendent since 2012. While he presents a draft budget each year, it’s the School Board and the district’s Budget Committee that work to craft a final proposal.
The thirty-six voters who signed this petition should be gently told that the budget that voters consider is one that is adopted by the School Board, in most cases following several open public meetings and at least one public forum. If these thirty-six voters— or any voters in any town— want to “bring the runaway budget” under control they have three means of doing so:
- They can run for the school board and if the electorate supports their thinking they will hold a seat on the group that ultimately adopts the budget the voters approve
- They can find someone in their town or region who shares their views and get them to run for the board as well or instead of them running
- They can show up at the meetings the School Board convenes when they are reviewing the proposed budget and offer their insights as to how the budget could be cut
The thirty-six voters, though, think that changing one person— the Superintendent— will somehow result in lower budget proposals. This is the kind of wishful thinking that many of President-elect Trump’s supporters engaged in this past November when they voted for him on the pretext that his business acumen and sheer will power would bring Congress to heel and reduce their taxes without requiring any sacrifice on their part or any compromises to the services they and their neighbors receive from the government.
Here’s the reality of democracy. No one man or woman can change things quickly… but every man or women’s vote counts and any man or woman can run for office and work to make the kinds of changes they want to see. And because every voice must be heard in a democracy and every alternative and opinion given careful consideration, democratic institutions move slowly.
It took Mascoma school district more than a decade to get upgrades to their schools… and it will take more than a decade to pay for those upgrades. The thirty-six disgruntled voters probably opposed the decision to upgrade the schools and are now trying to “get their money back”… They are clearly upset with the funding mechanism in place in their district and want to see that changed… but the fast, easy and wrong direction is the one they are taking. My hunch is their resolution will be soundly defeated at the District Meeting, but in the meantime they will generate a lot of divisive anger in the towns. THAT is the trickle down from the 2016 election and the behavior of the President-elect.